It’s March 2006. The Xbox 360 has been out for a few months, ushering the new generation of home consoles. The PlayStation 3 was to be released very soon, with Nintendo’s Revolution having no timetable for release yet. Nibris, a video game development company firmly established in Poland, set its eyes on one console in particular: the Nintendo Revolution (you now know it as the Wii). With that, Nibris released a live action concept trailer of a game in development exclusively for the Revolution. The concept trailer showed several different ways the motion controller could be put to use, such as holding a torch, throwing objects, and, well, killing things that breathe. Though only a concept trailer, Nibris was able to create buzz about Sadness.
So what was Sadness about, exactly? In the vein of Silent Hill, Sadness focused on psychological horror rather than the infamous jump scares. Nibris pitched the game as a realistic survival-horror video game that contains associations with narcolepsy, nyctophobia (fear of darkness), and paranoid schizophrenia. As far as interactivity went, Sadness was to have an open-ended interactivity between the player and objects in the game. In other words, you could potentially use any object in the game as a weapon. See that glass bottle? You can break it and use the glass shard as a weapon. Sadness would not implement a HUD or any in-game menus in order to give the player a greater sense of immersion.
Nibris apparently couldn’t handle the heavy workload that went into developing the title, so the studio partnered with Frontline Studios, which would be in charge of programming, and Digital Amigos, which would be in charge of developing the game’s visuals. In addition, Nibris annoucned Sadness would be released in the fourth quarter of 2007. Everything seemed to be moving forward, with potential Wii owners having another game to look forward to.Then Sadness seemed to disappear from the face of the Earth.
The launch of Nintendo’s Wii console came and went without even a snippet of news about Sadness. Days turned into months, with not even a whisper about Sadness. It came to the point where people were beginning to wonder whether it was simply vaporware. Nibris did not release a trailer, a demo, or even screenshots of the game. Hell, some promises Nibris made, such as a trailer by the end of 2007 and an appearance at the 2008 Game Developer’s Conference, weren’t even kept. What the hell was going on?
Reports flew in that Frontline Studios was no longer working on the project, the reason being “artistic differences”. In addition, Sadness was announced to be delayed to 2009, a far cry from the original “fourth quarter of 2007″ release window. Outlets began to question the very existence of the game, and as a result, Fog Studios, Nibris’ marketing partner, was forced to make a public statement on the matter. In essence, the game was still in development, but it needed a publisher.
Internal strife led to Sadness’ downfall.
In May 2009, Adam Antur Antolski (try saying that three times fast), scriptwriter for Sadness and ex-Nibris employee, dropped the bomb and revealed why exactly Sadness was taking so long to finish. According to Antolski, there were constant disputes over the game design, leading to a constant lack of consensus between Nibris and Frontline Studios. Deadlines were not met, and by the end of the first year of development, only the script, concept design, and a 3D object of some kind were completed.
In other words, Nibris didn’t do a single thing.
At E3 2009, Nibris didn’t even show up, and as time passed, Sadness quietly missed the late 2009 release window.
Goodbye, sweet Nibris.
In February 2010, Nibris said goodbye, as the development studio closed its doors. As such, Sadness was officially cancelled. Any remaining staff and projects were handed over to Bloober Team, another video game development studio.
It’s always sad to see such an ambitious project like Sadness just disappear into thin air. You can chalk it up to simply how the video game industry is, and how taxing it can be to release a brand new IP, but the problems that surfaced here had nothing to do with that; internal strife led to the downfall of Sadness. That’s extremely unfortunate, because based on Nibris’ pitch of the game, as well as the concept trailer, Sadness really had the potential to be something.
Blending the mind, as well as general psychology, with survival-horror elements can be a recipe for success, as proven by early Silent Hill entries. The thought of dealing with enemies who are schizophrenic or narcoleptic is a thrilling and innovative concept. Hell, the main character could be the one with the schizophrenia and the narcolepsy. The Wii motion remote is capable of fleshing out small details in the game, such as the breaking of a bottle to use as a weapon, which, as a whole, really do add to the overall enjoyment of a game. Still, all we can do at this point is ask, “Where did you go?”
Where Did You Go? is an ongoing series that takes a look at cancelled games, as well as games in development hell. For whatever reason a game got cancelled or remains in lingo, I will explore the game in question and analyze the situation. Thank you, Wikipedia!